Seattle Pacific Sports: Catching up with Ginny HustedJune 22, 2012
SEATTLE – A football. Some open space. And a friendly game of catch.
Just another 1960 summer day at Camp Casey for Ginny Husted.
Nowhere in her imagination was the notion that four years later, she'd be throwing a javelin, not a football … throwing it not on Whidbey Island in pristine Western Washington, but on Randall's Island outside of bustling New York City. … engaged not in a friendly game of catch …
… but taking part in the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“It was thrilling to compete and go to all of those events,” said Husted, a 1963 graduate of what then was Seattle Pacific College and now retired in Sierra Vista, Ariz. “I was always nervous about it, but I thrived.”
Nearly 48 years after Husted's first opportunity on that stage, another Falcons star is hoping for her own chance to thrive. Just-graduated Brittany Aanstad, winner of the NCAA Division II title last month, is a provisional qualifier for this year's U.S. Trials in Eugene, Ore. The javelin starts next Thursday, and Aanstad is still awaiting word whether she made the cut to compete.
As Husted sees it, just getting onto the list of potential qualifiers says something about Aanstad.
“She obviously has the skills and the training,” Husted said.
CHANGE WAS GOOD – VERY GOOD
Growing up, swimming and diving were Ginny Husted's athletic things. That's what her plans called for as she prepared to go off to San Jose State University in 1958.
She never got there.
“My friend had signed up to come to Seattle Pacific. I had lost track of her and I called her up and she said, “I'm leaving in one week for Seattle.' Her family talked me into coming here.
“I changed horses right in the middle of the stream.”
At that time, the school had no competitive sports for women. So Husted went about pursuing her degree in physical education.
While she was working as a lifeguard at Seattle Pacific's Camp Casey one summer, Ken Foreman, already on his way to becoming a legendary track and field coach, spotted her jumping on a trampoline.
“As I recall, she had a football and invited me to play catch,” Foreman said via e-mail from his home in Hawaii. “Wow-w-w-w – that young lady could throw.”
Foreman eventually brought a javelin – a heavier men's model, the only one he could find. He asked Husted if she had ever thrown one.
“I never even heard of it,” she said with a laugh.
Under the guidance of Foreman, then one of the few coaches who had considerable javelin knowledge, Husted quickly picked up on the basics.
“Some people get it, while others do not,” Foreman said.
“Ginny Husted got it.”
FARTHER AND FARTHER
She got it, all right – especially once Foreman found a women's javelin. (The women's is 600 grams, or 1.32 pounds; the men's is 800 grams, or 1.76 pounds.)
“When he brought up a men's javelin, it was huge. It was easy to throw, but I wasn't getting great distance,” Husted recalled. “As soon as summer was over and I got back into school, he somehow located a women's javelin.
“Throwing the women's was like throwing a toothpick.”
Added Foreman, “Neither are all that heavy, so a smaller, lighter, quicker performer can compete at the highest level with the proper technique.”
Before long, Husted was throwing as far as 120 feet, and winning most every meet.
“When Ginny and I started working together, I had never seen a female throw a javelin,” Foreman said. “The temptation was to modify what I knew about the event for a woman – a temptation that has sent many would-be women's coaches looking for another job.
“But having worked with Marcia Cosgrove in the 50s (a sprinter and one of Foreman's first athletes) and learning from her that technique is not gender-specific, Ginny and I focused on what was fundamentally correct, and she was skilled enough to learn and adapt.”
Quickly taking ownership of all the Pacific Northwest records, Husted started entering national competitions. She qualified for the 1964 Olympic Trials, but did not head to New York with high expectations.
“I figured I'd like to be in the top six,” Husted said. “Up to that point, I had been placing sixth, then fifth, then fourth, then third. But there were always one or two or three who were better than I was.”
Facing a fierce wind that early August day, Husted left all but one competitor behind with a throw of 148 feet, 10½ inches. The only one better was RaNae Bair of San Diego – one of those “one or two or three” who typically finished ahead of Husted. She did it again with an American record throw of 176-0.
“The winner got off one perfect throw, and I got off one perfect throw,” Husted said. “Nobody else got off a perfect throw. I was a little bit dumbfounded: Where was the competition? They faded.
“I didn't fade that day. I was thrilled.”
So were meet officials. But they still had bad news for Husted.
“As we were all leaving, they came up and said, 'You did really good, Virginia. But we're only budgeted to take one (to the Tokyo Olympics),' ” Husted recalled. “Ken petitioned, but he didn't have enough clout that early in his tenure. Today, his stature would have changed things.”
NOT DONE YET
Just three weeks after the U.S. Trials, Husted competed in the Canadian Open, and set the meet record with a throw of 155-2.
She eventually made it to Walnut, Calif., for the 1968 Olympic Trials. But in between the '64 and '68 events, she underwent shoulder surgery, and also had some elbow issues.
“My wing was my downfall at that point,” Husted said. “I continued to compete. But the injuries just gnaw at you.”
Eventually, she turned her focus to teaching and coaching. That included a four-year stretch at Seattle Pacific. Husted became the school's first women's basketball coach, guiding the club team to a 15-6 record in 1974-75, then going 15-7 and 14-10 the next two seasons as a full-fledged varsity program. She also assisted with women's gymnastics, was an assistant track coach, and helped start a ski school.
Now 71, Husted focuses her energy on golf, sporting a handicap of “around 12 or 13.”
“I'm very competitive,” she said. “But I'm trying not to be too intense and just enjoy it.”
Husted has never met Aanstad, but said if she were to offer any advice, it would be very simple.
“Follow your training rules, follow your routine, stay with your confidence, and just believe in yourself,” Husted said.
“Just focus and explode into that thing. Just explode and relax.”